“Nigeria was sinking when Buhari took power” – Wole Soyinka
Soyinka had vowed that he would give up his permanent US residency should Trump win the election, as a way of protesting Trump becoming the President of the United States. “I have already done it, I have disengaged (from the United States). I have done what I said I would do.
“I had a horror of what is to come with Trump… I threw away the (green) card, and I have relocated, and I’m back to where I have always been,’’ the 82-year-old told AFP on the sidelines of an education conference at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.
The prolific playwright, novelist and poet won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986 and has been a regular teacher at US universities including Harvard, Cornell and Yale. At the same time, he said he would not discourage others from applying for a green card. “It’s useful in many ways. I wouldn’t for one single moment discourage any Nigerians or anybody from acquiring a green card… but I have had enough of it,” he said. Soyinka, one of Africa’s most famous writers and rights activists, was jailed in 1967 for 22 months during Nigeria’s civil war.
He was reported to have recently completed a term as scholar-in-residence at New York University’s Institute of African American Affairs. In the aftermath of Trump’s victory, social media had trended with calls by Nigerians on the laureate to destroy his US permanent residency.
He, however, fired back that he reserved the right to determine when to destroy the document. Soyinka also said yesterday that he was not surprised that President Muhammadu Buhari had lost popularity just 18 months into office, given the high expectations that greeted his coming to power He said: “There’s nothing surprising to me about his losing popularity, it should be expected. People wanted change, that word was not just a slogan, it was a promise.’’
Soyinka, who noted that Nigeria was sinking when Buhari took power, said But when he took over power, said: “Fulfilling political promises when you take over the reins of power and you have to clean up a lot of mess, it’s not easy,” said the Nobel prize-winning author.
The ex-military ruler has seen his approval ratings decline in recent months from 80 percent last year to 41 percent this September, according to analysis firm BMI Research.
Soyinka said while Buhari was the better choice of the two candidates in last year’s election where he squared off against ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, it was high time the country weaned itself off leaders with military backgrounds. “I was not particularly enamoured of the idea of a military person continuing — for heaven’s sake, it’s been too long. “I feel very passionate that it’s about time that we eliminated the last vestiges of military control, of military representation. It’s as if there are no brains outside the military,’’ he said.